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Mindful : June 2016
The yellow light has a fleet- ing life between red and green. In some countries, yellow illuminates both on the way to red, telling you to slow down, and on the way to green, telling you to get into gear or prime your engine. In either case, you need to think: Should I stay or should I go? Inside its modest lifespan lies an amber universe of ambiguity, a moment to think, a time for autonomy and judgment. Red and green lights are all about necessity and conformity. Yellow lights are windows of possibility. Red and green are exclamation points. Yellow is a question mark. Red and green keep us under control and safe from each other; yellow invites exploration and tests character. When we come upon a yellow light, we have to think about now. We need to perceive our surround- ings, where we fit in the flow of traffic, our speed— all in relation to other driv- ers. We have to be present and alert. The yellow light is about mindfulness. The duration of the yellow light varies depend- ing on the speed limit. A higher limit correlates with a longer yellow. This same relationship applies to ever yday situations; when we encounter dangerous or difficult situations, we need to stretch time to think and reflect before making our decisions. Yellow calls for caution, but with a pre- sumption of doing some- thing. The faster and more complex the world, the more we need to provide our own yellow lights. Stop or Go: In Praise of the Yellow Light The freedom of the yel- low light is a field of open opportunities, some taken, some missed. A driver- less car will doubtless be perfect at navigating the binary world of red and green. But will it be able to analyze the multi-faceted realm of possibility created by a yellow traffic light? Perhaps the yellow light is the special domain of the autonomous driver—of us—the flawed humans who must be alert and decide whether to stop or to keep going. Stop, or go. That’s the question of the yellow light. It’s the challenge—and the reward—of being alive. 80 mindful June 2016 Illustration by Min Gyo Chung mindspace notice what you notice Kira Medish is a junior at the National Cathedral School in Washington, DC.